Best to Worst: Three Kinds of F&I Managers

Good auto dealership F&I staffers create advantages. Bad ones take advantage.

Steve Finlay, Senior Editor

September 15, 2015

2 Min Read
Gould left and Romani offer tips to conference audience
Gould (left) and Romani offer tips to conference audience.

LAS VEGAS – There are three kinds of F&I managers: Those who need an advantage, those who take advantage and those who create an advantage.

So says F&I trainer Fernando Romani of United Development Systems. “The ones who need an advantage don’t do anything if you don’t give them the paperwork.

“Those who take advantage are the worst,” he says. “They might post big numbers, but they have bad customer satisfaction scores and they run from cash deals.

“Those who create an advantage can take any deal and make it better.”  

Romani and colleague Gerry Gould, United’s director-training, offer best-practice tips at this year’s F&I Industry Summit here. Occasionally, they act them out in role-playing demonstrations.

“Our tips come from various sources, often good F&I managers,” Gould says. “I keep a notepad with me, and write things down when someone says something valuable.”

The irony of training is that trainers can learn from trainees, adds Romani.

Dealership salespeople are an F&I managers best customers, he says. As the old F&I saying goes, nothing starts until the car is sold. But salespeople can sometimes misspeak.

“If a salesperson tells a customer ‘You’ll be in and out of the F&I office in five minutes, the F&I manager needs to reset the clock,” Romani says.

A way to do that is to tell the customer: “While I’m doing the F&I, your car is being gassed up, cleaned and prepared for you to take delivery.” Saying that potentially makes a car buyer less impatient during an aftermarket product presentation.

Gould recommends meeting customers on the showroom floor and, when possible before they go to the dealership, phoning them to get information. That can get a lot of paperwork done in advance. With that out of the way, “you can spend more time in the F&I office doing product presentations.”

Other recommendations from him and Romani include:

  • Say “May I?” not “Can I?” when asking for customer permission to proceed with a presentation point. It’s easier for them to say “no” to “Can I?”

  • Establish both rapport and credibility. “Too many F&I managers don’t see the difference,” Gould says. “Rapport establishes a relationship, credibility establishes trust. Credibility is the most important, but both are needed.”

  • Dress professionally. “If you are selling F&I, look the part,” Gould says.

  • Get the customer involved in the presentation. It’s more convincing when on their own realize the value of, say, an extended-service agreement.

  • Use “props” such as a stainless steel coffee mug that has dings and dents on it. Drawing an analogy to that and what can happen to a car helps show the value of vehicle protection plans.

A well-done F&I process isn’t failsafe. “It won’t work every time,” Romani says. “But it works a lot of the time.”

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